Trying Something New

By Robert Mark on January 14th, 2016 | Comments Off on Trying Something New

TAM Final LogowithJet-01Trying Something New

Quite a few Jetwhine readers and listeners have asked what happened to The Aviation Minute, the editorial podcast series I began a couple of years ago using this neat logo.

The simple answer is we’ve evolved a bit … from the early audio-based shows to a video-centered stories.

Thanks to a new partnership between Jetwhine and, publishers of Airport Business, AMT and Ground Service and Support – we’ve also changed the name from The Aviation Minute to On the Mark adding this new logo along the way. The shows will air twice a month on both the site and here at Jetwhine, but will also be delivered directly to viewers via an e-mail blast system.


OTM Logo 1

So here’s On the Mark, Networking Tips From NBAA 2015 (click to view).

As always, I’m interested in what you think of the content, as well as the production. I’m always on the lookout for some under-appreciated topic thats cries out for a little coverage, so pass along your ideas to us at Thanks for watching.

Rob Mark, Publisher

Taking Time to Find Aviation Serendipity

By Scott Spangler on January 4th, 2016 | 7 Comments »

NAHA-113On your way someplace else, how many times have you passed a sign pointing to a small town airport? The more important question is how many times have you followed that sign?

With the potential for unknown delays between the sign and your intended destination, and the unlikely reward of aviation serendipity, of finding something interesting at a small airport in these aviation depressed times, you probably drive on by. Yeah, me, too.

But not this year, or in all the years to follow. Finding something special is worth the minutes it takes to follow the airport sign and make a drive-by inspection. If there is nothing that captures my curiosity, I’ll be on my way. But if it is taken prisoner, what else can I do but surrender to it?

A visit to the municipal airport, with a single 4,400-foot runway, that serves the 11,639 residents of Urbana, Ohio, planted the seed for this change. Had I been traveling and not touring the National Aviation Heritage Area, I would have missed something truly unique, the Champaign Aviation Museum, which calls this small town airport, also known as Grimes Field,  home.

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It Takes a Community to Promote Aviation

By Scott Spangler on December 21st, 2015 | Comments Off on It Takes a Community to Promote Aviation

Promoting aviation to ensure its future viability and growth is something important to most of us who are involved with it personally or professionally. Individuals and organizations have promoted and pursued programs dedicated to inviting newcomers to the fold, and the results have often fallen short of those promised. Yes, there have been a number of one-on-one success stories, but the challenge is making this successful personal approach work on a larger scale.

The Raisbeck Aviation High School, a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math education is a worthy model for all to consider because it unites aviation’s many communities in pursuit of a common goal. Founded and operated by Highline Public Schools (District 401), RAHS serves 27 different school districts in the Washington’s Puget Sound region.

Its campus is located at Boeing Field’s Museum of Flight, making it the only aviation themed college-prep school that shares resources with an aerospace museum. And it receives an inspirational assist from the 200 or or so aviation related businesses that surround the school. But it goes beyond that, said Steve Davolt, RAHS’s coordinator of work-based learning. “Mentorships and internships have been an integral part of the schools since it was started 12 years ago.”

Mentorship pairs an RAHS student with an area aviation professional, he continued; both individuals make a one-year commitment, but many of them continue three or four years, until the student graduates. Every summer, nearly half of the 425-member student body participates in a 10-12-week internship, 60 percent of which are paid.

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How Deep is Your Aviation Knowledge?

By Scott Spangler on December 7th, 2015 | Comments Off on How Deep is Your Aviation Knowledge?

With the approach of December 17, which every airplane geek holds dear as Kitty Hawk Day, the birthday of powered flight, a brief quiz to probe your aviation knowledge beyond this momentous event.

The questions come from Aviation Trail, a member of Dayton’s National Aviation Historic Alliance. Answering these questions during the Aviation Writers Summit in Dayton earlier this year I was able to answer most of them. But a handful introduced me to new and fascinating aspects of aviation that inspired further study—and appreciation—of aviation’s contributions to the larger world. Enjoy! –Scott Spangler, Editor

1. How many Wright siblings were there who lived to adulthood?

2. What were the careers of the Wright brothers before they started building airplanes?

3. Name the first African-American to have make a living as a writer and why he was significant?

4. How did a rectangular inner tube box inspire Wilber Wright?

5. How many flights took place at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903?

6. How long was the first flight?

7. Where was the Wright Company Flying School, and who was one of its famous graduates?

8. Why did the Wrights chose Kitty Hawk for their glider test site?

9. Where is the original Wright Flyer displayed?

10. Other than the airplane, name five major Dayton inventions (among thousands of all types)?

11. Which Wright brother was from another state, and which one was the first to fly?

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Encouraging People to Replace Us

By Robert Mark on December 1st, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Encouraging People to Replace Us

Finding young people to grab the reins from us old guys in aviation is a bit like the weather … everyone talks about why we need to do something, but not everyone is clear about how to actually make that happen. Certainly doing nothing is the wrong answer. So what can we do to increase our odds of connecting all the right people together?

NBAA 2015 yoproAt the recent NBAA convention, the association offered a number of us an opportunity to mingle with a hundred or so officially named Young Professionals who’d volunteered to listen to us more-experienced (secret code for older) industry folks detail how we started while also delivering a bit of unsolicited advice for job seekers.

The NBAA team was spearheaded by the association’s Sierra Grimes with Brett Ryden from Southcomm’s Aviation leading a group of his editors who together created an hour’s worth of practical education at the show’s Innovation Zone. The panel was evenly split between ladies and gents … myself, Jo Damato from NBAA, Sarah Barnes from Paragon Aviation and Textron Aviation’s senior VP of Customer Service Brad Thress. Our moderator was writer Lowen Baumgarten.

Stage members spent a few minutes detailing their experiences, but since we were there to answer questions, I was antsy to interact with the audience. Over the course of the hour there were perhaps seven or eight good ones, but I wanted more. I probably shouldn’t have.

Reality kicked in for me about 20 minutes after we began as I realized that some of what a number of young people had told me the night before was really true … networking is not an innate skill, not even close. I’d seen this kind of thing before too. Universities apparently assume graduates automatically absorb networking skills out of thin air I guess. Luckily NBAA and AviationPros and a few other organizations have made the effort to fill those voids. Read the rest of this entry »

Historic Airplanes: A Reliquary for the Spirit and Soul of Their Crews

By Scott Spangler on November 23rd, 2015 | 3 Comments »

MB Crew

NAHA-158The men who united as a crew in the vertical war over Europe after Pearl Harbor have all since surrendered, as we all must one day, to time. Its last living member, radio operator Robert Hanson, passed into history in 2005 at age 85. But their spirits and souls live on in the reliquary that fused their individual personalities into historic airplanes like the Memphis Belle.

Standing before its wingless fuselage in the crowded restoration hangar of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, under its iconic nose art I see the crew of the Memphis Belle, men just past 20, bundled up in sheepskin and thick coveralls. They are, from left, Harold Loch, Cecil Scott, Robert Hanson, James Verinis, Robert Morgan, Charles Leighton, John Quinlan, Casmer Nastal, Vincent Evans, and Clarence Winchell.

Portrayed in an eponymous motion picture, Hollywood history has confused the significance of what these men achieved in the Memphis Belle. It was not the historic airplane before me that successfully flew 25 missions, it was the team that gave it life. Consistent through all the history of the era I’ve read, including The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle, written by Robert Morgan and Ron Powers in 2001, daylight bombing early in the war endured an 80-percent casualty rate.

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Measuring Aviation Rewards: A Personal Hall of Fame

By Scott Spangler on November 2nd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

NAHA-73Gathering with my aeronautical peers, I rarely participate in conversations in which they compare their cumulative and recent aviation rewards in terms of certificates and ratings earned, total hours logged, or most recent aircraft flown. While I share in the joy of their accomplishments—and sometimes envy them—I measure my aviation rewards by a different standard.

Like my peers, I share their overwhelming passion for flight. But making the most of available opportunity, circumstance, and individual interest, I’ve grown into an erudite aviator. The aviation rewards that I relish is association with others who have shared their more extensive knowledge and experience with me, and the opportunity to share what they have taught me with others.

Every aviator, I’m sure, has enshrined these notable individuals in his or her personal hall of fame. Mine was founded with the flight instructors who patiently conveyed the aeronautical knowledge and stick-and-rudder skills that realized my aviation dreams. Their names, Kim Middleton, Kerry Rowan, and Caroline Kalman, are unknown to most, but that does not diminish their contribution to those of us who were their students.

In select circles of aviation, some of my personal enshrinees are better known, like Loren Doughty and David Borrows, who demystified the complexity of helicopter flight by talking me through my first hand attempts at it. Dave Gwinn, Terry Blake, and Hal Shevers taught me different aspects of the business of aviation, and dedicated FAAers, who I’m sure wish to preserve their anonymity, took me behind the curtain of terminal and en route air traffic control, flight standards, and the nuances of flight test and aircraft certification.

In my mind there is a wing reserved for those who fostered my opportunities as an aviation word merchant. Gary Worden, Melissa Murphy, Dave Ewald, Pat Luebke, Jack Olcott, and Rob Mark not only taught me by example, they endured my trials and tribulations as I worked to achieve our common successes. Without them, I would not have been able to learn from so many others.

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Generations of Aviation Relevance

By Scott Spangler on October 19th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

NAHA-28On my inaugural visit to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, I expected nothing more than the opportunity to meet many of the airplanes I’ve read about in their tactile, three-dimensional magnificence. The museum, part of the National Aviation Heritage Area that encompasses Dayton, Ohio, and its surrounding communities, more than met my expectation. Unexpected was the epiphany that arose from an obscure airplane, a simple but vexing question, and the spirit of my father, a naval aviator who joined his World War II compatriots in 2008.

The Air Force Museum has divided its vast collection by conflict/era in four huge hangars: World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the new hangar, which is open in the spring, which will display the collection’s experimental aircraft, such as the X-15. Walking in the World War II hangar with Paul Dye, editor of Kitplanes magazine, we came across the AT-9 and wondered who had given a Twin Beech an Art Deco makeover. Seeing the airplane in profile, I realized that I’d seen the airplane before, in two-dimensions. And thinking of the worn Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters Handbook, published by the National Aeronautics Council in 1943, resurrected my father’s spirit, for it was his NavCad book bag, and he used it to teach me to read words and airplanes.

NAHA-255Edited by Ensign L.C. Guthman, the handbook categorized the Allied and Axis aircraft of the era by number of engines, from six to gliders, and the position of their wings, high, mid-wing, and low. The AT-9, an advanced trainer, made by Curtiss-Wright, the nacelles of its two Lycoming R-680-9 radial engines extending beyond its Art Deco nose, is on page 134. Not far from what may well be the last tangible example of this little known airplane is the airplane on page 135, the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando.

As we wandered through the connecting hallway that led to the Cold War, Paul asked an often-posed question: Why has interest in the aircraft of World War II endured in their popularity compared to the veterans who flew during the conflicts waged during my lifetime, Korea and Vietnam? The kernel of one possible answer was planted when I noticed a heavily armed Predator drone flying above a heavily armed Skyraider that saw service in Southeast Asia.

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Dayton NAHA: A Model for the Rebirth of Aviation

By Scott Spangler on October 5th, 2015 | 9 Comments »

Graphic design for the NAHA Aviation Writers SummitWhen the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, a coalition formed by the leaders of the 19 sites that comprise the National Aviation Heritage Area (both served by the NAHA acronym), invited me to its inaugural Aviation Writers Summit in Dayton, Ohio, I accepted without expectations. My anticipation of the event, which concluded last Friday afternoon, was eager because we would visit many of the sites that have long been on my aviation to-do list. But the symposium held a subtle surprise worth much more than tick marks on my selfish list of places I want to visit and things I want to do. It is a lesson for everyone in aviation that might hold the key to the industry’s rebirth.

If there has been a common denominator to the countless aviation media events I’ve attended for nearly three decades it is that the effort is focused on enlarging a single slice of the shrinking aviation pie. In a larger context, one could argue that the summit’s goal was the same, but scaling generalizations works in both directions. With 19 NAHA sites represented, not once during our daily interactions with their leaders at receptions or dinners, did any conversation, participatory or overheard, deviate from the shared goal of improving the lot of everyone involved. In many cases, the conversations delved into the ways the larger members, like the National Museum of the United States Air Force, have, are, and will support the whole.

clip_image002The symposium (its participants here with Amanda Wright Lane and Smithsonian aviation curator Tom Crouch at the 1905 Wright Flyer) was elegantly organized and efficiently run, and the defining example of it was the announcement to all during the reception at the National Aviation Hall of Fame before we all adjourned to the adjacent Air Force Museum for dinner. Explaining that when mixing different groups people tend to congregate with those they already know, to integrate the aviation writers and the individual NAHA site leaders the evening’s emcee, Susan Richardson, asked everyone to sit at the table indicated by the number on the back of our nametags. I was at No. 4. This resulted in a thoroughly enjoyable dinner conversation with the nine other people at the table because no single facet of aviation dominated it.

Promising to write about any of the NAHA sites was not a requirement for accepting the Aviation Writers Summit invitation. They would be thrilled if that happened, naturally, and they openly hoped that we aviation word merchants would become their advocates, which is the hope of every media event organizer. And they made one of me, but not because of my to-do items it ticked, but because of how it was organized and presented. That a diverse group from the aviation community on any scale can focus on efforts to sustain and improve the activities of all is evidence that aviation, at least at its birthplace in (as its residents call it) “Dayton O.” has a future. –Scott Spangler, Editor

ATC and Pilots: When to Keep your Mouth Shut and when to Speak Up

By Robert Mark on September 28th, 2015 | 2 Comments »

ATC and Pilots

This sounds a bit pathetic, but most of the professional pilots I’ve known in my life have been smart alecks, me included … always ready with an opinion, whether anyone asked for it or not. We’re all control freaks to some degree I suppose, not an earth-shattering revelation of course, because those are the kind of people you want around when it’s time to grab the controls and say, “I’ve got it.”

Sometimes knowing when not to grab the microphone in the cockpit though, can be just as important, especially for me when it comes to ATC at least. I spent a decade of my aviation life in a control tower and behind a radar scope, which was just enough to qualify me – by my standards of course – as an expert.


Madison Wi (MSN)

Case in point to grabbing that microphone occurred at Madison, Wis., a few weeks ago with a student in the Cirrus. We were VFR in right traffic for Runway 31 and requesting multiple “option approaches,” the ones that leave it to us to decide whether we’ll make a full stop, stop and go, low approach, or whatever might be left. The long runway, 18-36, was closed for construction and some itinerant traffic was using Runway 3-21. BTW, tower assigned us Runway 31 which I did wonder about with traffic on Runway 3, but then since every controller runs their traffic patterns a little differently I thought no more about it.

After the third or fourth option approach, the tower cleared us to land on Runway 31, but never explained why. On touch down, I simply forgot and told the student “let’s go” and he added full power and reduced the flap setting. As soon as we broke ground the “cleared to land” part flashed in my mind. Maybe 100 feet in the air, the local controller in MSN tower firmly reminds me that when he says cleared to land, he means cleared to land. I really tried not to respond, but of course I did, “Sorry about that. My fault. But 18/36 is closed right?” as in, so what was the real problem other than my failure to follow orders. I honestly didn’t know.

Someone in the tower keyed the mic as if they were going to say something and then decided against it. We landed about 15 minutes later and the ground controller reminded me that I had earlier been cleared to land on Runway 31 and that they really need me to follow instructions in the future. Of course you know I keyed the microphone and asked again what the issue was other than blowing the order … “Did I conflict with some other aircraft?” “No, but you were cleared to land, not for an option,” he said. Since the other pilot was becoming uncomfortable with the exchange I just said, “Roger. Thanks,” and let it go. After all, I did blow it. I just would have liked to have known a bit more, but I decided to just let it go.


Kenosha Wi. (ENW)

Jump ahead a month or so and I’m again acting as CFI in the traffic pattern at Kenosha, Wis., this time having watched the other pilot I’m flying with land out of a really nicely handled circling instrument approach. We decide to stay in the VFR traffic pattern for a bit so the controller in the tower – obviously working both tower and ground himself – taxies us to Runway 7 Left. As we taxi, I hear him chatting with a Citabria pilot he’s sending to Runway 7 Right. About now I became occupied watching my pilot prepare for another takeoff.

Some part of my brain must have heard the tower clear the Citabria for takeoff from the right runway with a left turn out, just before he cleared us from the left runway, but it remained one of those distant notes in my brain until we were about 200 feet in the air. That’s when I saw the taildragger cutting across our path from the right. I instinctively told the pilot I was flying with to head right behind the Citabria as the ENW controller mentioned him as “traffic ahead and to our right.” He was a lot more than that. If we hadn’t turned, it would have been close.

The pilot flying with me looked at me in wonderment as I just shook my head and keyed the microphone … “nice tower.” No response.

I rang the tower manager a few days later on the phone because I wanted him to know how close I thought we would have been had we not banked right after takeoff. I told him I thought the ENW tower controller just plum forgot about the taildragger off the right when he cleared us for takeoff. I got it. It happens. I just wanted to see if I’d missed something here too.

Sad to say but the tower manager at Kenosha never rang back.

This is where it becomes tough for me. Should I ring the tower manager again and risk sounding like a know-it-all? I make mistakes too. What do you think? Let me know at

Note: This story ran originally at the AOPA Opinion Leaders blog.